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Mark XTC Rollin Beatz/Keys

Label: Beatz

Mark XTC, formerly of Da Intalex (with pal Marcus) returns for this Valve offshoot. "Rollin' Beatz" is an apt title for this A-side, in which a '95 bassline pairs up with a pitched-down Amen for some extremely minimal hardstep business. The flip's "Keys" pinches a wonky piano intro from Dillinja and hits it with some pounding one-two punches. More DJ tools than fleshed-out tunes, these tracks would be perfect with an a capella laid over them, but are pretty boring on their own. Read more » 

Gene Hunt The Next Level

Label: Moods and Grooves

Lucky us: Chicago's Gene Hunt serves us three sections of controlled, deep and extremely soulful house music for Mike Grant's well-respected Moods and Grooves. Lil Louis's bruv provides vocals on "I Live," a sweet body-and-soul ballad for mature house lovers. Despite the clich?d heavy breathing intro, the way that Gene manipulates the beats and chords on "Skeemin Boheman" is, well, simply amazing. It just goes to prove that this man is in a class of his own. Read more » 

Variable Unit Handbook for the Apocalypse

Label: Wide Hive

Live hip-hop? Stop rolling your eyes and open your ears. VU proves that organic can be a healthy alternative. "Handbook for the Apocalypse" finds Azeem speaking on signs of the times over a sweeping guitar/acoustic bass/keyboard arrangement. The b-side's "We Are at War" features SF turntablist hellion and DJ Quest cutting over a laid-back jazzy groove. Read more » 

Joakim Fantomes

Label: Versatile

Long live the French!

Jori Hulkkonen Different

Label: F Communications

Like an amalgam of Derrick May and Marc Almond, Finland's Jori Hulkkonen proves that you can have fun and face the future all at once. Different finds the Finnish technoist indulging his guilty pop pleasures, as he enlists the help of electro maven Tiga on the almost too-silly "Blue & White." While Hulkkonen works up a bubbly tech-house lather, the mullet-sporting Montrealer sings a paean to Finland's finest hockey heroes. Different? Indeed. Read more » 

High Planes Drifter vs. Goldspot/Horsepower Productions Sholay/TGS Remix

Label: Tempa

Lights out for the summer. "Sholay" is downtempo, and reminiscent of "Snakecharmer" (but better), with glistening bells'ndian percussion and laced with haunting Bollywood vox. On the flip, "TGS" caresses you with shimmering synth and teases with blaxploitation threats, before dropping you right in the bass chamber. Essential! Read more » 

VU (Variable Unit) Handbook for the Apocalypse: A Hitch-hiker's Guide Through the Conflict

Label: Wide Hive

Like a bling-bling-and-bullets album dedicated to God, many artists are currently as ideologically slippery as a Humvee climbing the banks of the Euphrates. VU are not those artists. These are times to feel passionately about politics, and VU is here to give voice to everything you've been feeling, but have been told by nightly polls that it's impolite to say. Full of samples of demonstrators, visions of a humorously stark future, right-wing talking-heads and news broadcasts underscored by the mysterious Chief of Espionage on Rhodes organ, this is more than simple posturing. Read more » 

Fiona Renshaw Waste Away

Label: Laws of Motion

Laws of Motion look to shed the strictures of nu-jazz legacy with signings like Tom Noble and this powerful singer/songwriter/guitarist. Ms. Renshaw gives her passionate original A-side a gutsy downtempo beat treatment, and leaves her flipside cover of Gil Scot-Heron's "Home is Where the Hatred Is" beatless and huge. Read more » 

Alex Attias The Selector Series Vol. 1

Label: Goya

Known for his future jazz productions as part of Beatless, Bel-Air Project, and Plutonia, Alex Attias demonstrates here that he's one of the finest DJs rocking spots in any genre. On this release from famed West London distributor Goya, Attias throws down a top-notch club set that balances the off-kilter tension of broken beat with straight-up house grooves. Imagining oneself lost in a sweaty root-down is effortless when listening to this mix, which features artists like Domu, Osunlade, Peven Everett, Dego and I.G. Culture. Read more » 

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